British-Pakistani One Direction star Zayn Malik says he just wants to “live a normal life” after quitting the hugely popular boy band on Wednesday.
Malik, 22, apologized to the band’s millions of fans for his decision which came days after he dropped out of One Direction’s Asia tour due to “stress”.
“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. 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.
Days earlier, Malik, who is engaged to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards, had been photographed partying with another woman in Thailand.
The remaining band members, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, will continue on their current world tour as a foursome and will release their fifth album later this year.
“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 band members said.
Simon Cowell, the British music and television impresario who launched the band, said: “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.”
Malik will doubtless hope to enjoy not just a “normal” life but a wealthy one as well – One Direction are estimated to have earned more than $114 million on their last world tour with each member making in excess of $14 million in 2014 alone.