Zayn Malik drug abuse
Zayn Malik has quit One Direction. Singer is taking time out of spotlight to 'relax'Reuters

Fans of One Direction have been left devastated by the news that Zayn Malik has quit the group after five years.

The 22-year-old released a statement on 25 March announcing he wants to "relax and have some private time out of the spotlight," leaving former bandmates Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson as a four-piece.

Understandably, Directioners have flooded social media to express their sadness at Malik's departure:

In his statement, Malik 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. 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. 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."

The remaining members of 1D reacted to the news, saying: "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."

One Direction formed in 2010 on ITV talent contest The X Factor. The band have since gone on to sell millions of records worldwide and are currently in the middle of their On The Road Again tour.