One Direction is a member down as Zayn Malik announced to the world that he has left the band. In a statement posted on the band's official website, Zayn said he wanted to be a "normal 22-year-old" and relax out of the spotlight.

Last week, the singer left the world tour to fly home after he was signed-off with stress. That coincided with pictures leaking of him with his arm around another woman. Zayn is currently engaged to Little Mix star Perrie Edwards.

In a statement, Zayn said: "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." He went on to apologise to his legions of fans but that the decision to quit "feels right."

Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles will continue as a four-piece and will record a fifth album which is expected to be released later this year. One Direction will also be continuing with their world tour. In a joint statement, they said: "We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future."

One Direction were put together by Simon Cowell during the 2010 series of The X Factor. The band quickly gained a following through the series, and ended up finishing in third place.

Despite this, the band gained worldwide attention with their debut hit song 'What Makes You Beautiful' and went on to crack the notoriously difficult American Music market.

Music mogul Simon Cowell has spoken out about Zayn's decision to quit the group saying that he is sorry to see him go. "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. "

Zayn has had a troubled 12 months which began when he and Louis Tomlinson were videoed allegedly smoking marijuana. Rumours then persisted as to whether he would leave the band. In November 2014, Zayn was missing from the Today Show in America, where the band were performing to promote their latest album.

Host Matt Lauer asked the group if Zayn's absence was related to recent and alleged drug trouble, to which the group squashed. The host of the 'Today Show' faced a backlash from One Direction fans.