One Direction fans were left heartbroken after the news many had feared would come finally did with the release of a statement from STX Entertainment confirmed Zayne Malik had left the group, the BBC reports. Over the last few months Malik had been missing from a series of performances and appearances as rumors flew that he was set to leave the band made famous on the UK version of the X Factor. After photos were leaked to the British press of Malik and an unnamed woman the singer left the band’s world tour with stress and reportedly returned to the UK to repair his relationship with Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards.
Malik had originally auditioned for the X Factor as a solo artist before pop impresario Simon Cowell formed a five piece band from the solo singers who had auditioned for the show. Cowell also released a statement thanking Zayne for his time with One Direction and confirmed the rest of the band would continue working as a four piece and record a new album after completing their current world tour.