It is with heavy, heavy hearts that we report that Zayn Malik has officially left One Direction.

The band shared the devastating news on Facebook on Wednesday (March 25), revealing that they will continue on as a "four-piece."

"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," Zayn said in a statement on Facebook. "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."

"We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future," the band wrote. "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."

Simon Cowell also expressed his sentiments via the band's Facebook.

"I would like to say thank you to Zayn for everything he has done for One Direction," he wrote. "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."

Zayn's status within the band initially raised eyebrows when he left the Asian leg of the band's On the Road Again tour on March 19 due to "stress" after allegations emerged that he cheated on his fiancée Perrie Edwards. As we previously reported, rumors were flying that Zayn was meeting with his lawyers to discuss leaving the group. Earlier this week, an alleged One Direction tour rider indicated that backstage dressing rooms were only necessary for four members of the band.

"Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis ... look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year," the band's official statement read.

We are devastated to see Zayn leave the band and share in the sadness of Directioners all around the world on this heartbreaking day.

See One Direction Throughout the Years

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