London: Singer Zayn Malik has announced that he is quitting band One Direction to lead a "normal" life out of the spotlight.
The 22-year-old had skipped the group's world tour last week due to stress.
“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,” Malik said in a statement.
Zayn Malik. Pic/Santa Banta
"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," he added.
The remaining members of the group - Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Harry Styles - will continue as a four-piece and have reassured fans that their world tour and recording of their fifth album will still go ahead.
They said in a statement: "We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. 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. We're looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour."