Zayn Malik Officially Leaves One Direction

That sound you just heard? Was the collective sobs of every teenage girl alive.

Just a week after exiting the One Direction tour due to “stress,” Zayn Malik has officially left the band. “After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction,” the band said in a statement on their Facebook.

Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson will continue 1D as a four-piece and they “look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year,” the statement said.

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"We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future,” Zayn’s bandmates say. “The past five years have been beyond amazing, we've gone through so much together, so we will always be friends.”

“The four of us will now continue,” they promise. “We're looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour."

As for Zayn, he explains, "My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I'd like to apologise to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart.”

He continued, “I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world."

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The past year hasn’t been easy for Zayn, who was recently accused of cheating on fiancée Perrie Edwards (he denies it). He's also dropped out of multiple shows due to “falling ill,” and has had to defended himself against allegations of “substance abuse” from tabloids and Matt Lauer alike.

One Direction got their start on the U.K. version of X-Factor. Simon Cowell, who discovered the band, says of Zayn’s departure: "I would like to say thank you to Zayn for everything he has done for One Direction. Since I first met Zayn in 2010, I have grown very, very fond -- and immensely proud -- of him. I have seen him grow in confidence and I am truly sorry to see him leave.”

Cowell continues, “As for One Direction, fans can rest assured that Niall, Liam, Harry and Louis are hugely excited about the future of the band."

Now, re-watch One Direction's tense interview with Lauer on The Today Show:

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