Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction after five years

Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction after five years

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The teenage Twitter population has gone into meltdown at the news that Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction.

His departure from the band was announced earlier today in a statement released to the press. The pressures of fame - particularly recently - appear to have played a big part in the decision. "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" he said.

Five years after being brought together by pop svengali Simon Cowell on The X Factor, One Direction have become astronomically famous. Even Cowell himself was shocked at how big the band became post-X Factor. "I haven't seen a worldwide reaction like this to a group of boys for a very long time" he said. "If we'd been talking a few years ago I'd never have said they were going to debut at number one in America."

Together Zayn, Harry, Louis, Niall and Liam have a combined Twitter and Instagram following of over 70 million, that's bigger than the individual populations of Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain and Greece - or 1% of the world's population. And considering Zayn was only 18 when he joined the band, you can see why he might be craving a little normality.

This isn't the first time a world-famous boyband and their fans have been shaken up by one member's sudden departure. In 1995 teenagers were left distraught - and helplines were opened to offer support - when Robbie Williams announced he was leaving Take That.

A year later, in February 1996, the band announced they were splitting up. Though as we all know, they've since enjoyed several reunions and are all great pals again.

So what next for the quietest member of 1D? Will he go solo a-la Robbie?

We're guessing right now he'll be planning to jet off somewhere quiet with his fiance Perrie Edwards for some chill time while the dust settles, and probably relishing the fact that he soon won't have to get up at the crack of dawn for another photo opp. Since each member of the band is said to be worth around £70 million he definitely won't have to work again if he doesn't want to, though our Deputy Editor Emily Dean predicts there will be a break off solo effort involving beads from Camden and an acoustic guitar.

The rest of the band say they're planning to carry on as a foursome, though with one man down only time will tell if they can last longer than Take That did the first time around. Watch this space...

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