Zayn Malik leaves pop group One Direction

World famous band One Direction have announced that Zayn Malik has left the group after five years.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (SONY) – Singer Zayn Malik said on Wednesday (March 25) he was quitting One Direction because he wanted to live a normal life and apologized to fans of the hugely popular British-Irish boy band for doing so.

“I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. 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,” Malik said in a statement on One Direction’s Facebook page.

Last week Malik dropped out of the pop band’s On the Road Again tour in Asia due to “stress” after pictures were posted of the engaged Malik partying with a holidaymaker in Thailand.

“Zayn has been signed off with stress and is flying back to the UK to recuperate. The band wish him well and will continue with their performances in Manila and Jakarta,” an emailed statement from London-based publicist Simon Jones said.

Malik, who is engaged to Perrie Edwards of Little Mix, is seen in photos posted on the Internet partying with a woman who has been identified as Lauren Rich.

Malik, in an angry post on his Twitter account, said: “I’m 22 years old … I love a girl named Perrie Edwards. And there’s a lot of jealous f***s in this world I’m sorry for what it looks like x”

The English-Irish One Direction came to prominence in the televised singing competition “The X Factor” in 2010 and has gone on to become one of the world’s top selling bands.

The band said in their Facebook 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.”

The man who runs their record label, Simon Cowell, further stated, “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. As for One Direction, fans can rest assured that Niall, Liam, Harry and Louis are hugely excited about the future of the band.”