In his statement, Zayn explained: "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." Was this a decision that was months in the making though?
A source told Us Weekly that his bandmates "knew it was coming" after Zayn decided to leave the tour. The insider explained that "He just wasn't happy. He felt he had gotten everything he can out of being in the band and that it was now time to change his life and be away from all the craziness."
Another source told the site that being famous was too much for the star, explaining he had a "very hard time adjusting to this level of fame," adding, "He was always the more shy and introspective one. The stress got to him and he just realized he wanted a normal life. It just got to be too much."
According to another report from the Mirror, a friend of Zayn's confirmed that he had reservations about continuing with the band earlier this year, explaining, "Zayn was adamant that this is it. At the start of the year, during rehearsals, he didn't want to be there anymore. But then once the tour got going he really enjoyed himself."
The insider noted, "But ultimately, the fame side was just too much for him. He made this decision with the full support of his family and Perrie, who are with him. He had a few days to rest and everyone thought he'd rejoin the band. But as the South Africa dates approached, he knew his heart would not be in it."
Zayn reportedly told his friend: "I've made my decision, and I'm at peace with it. I don't want to live a life where everything I do is put on the internet and dissected. I don't want to be photographed every second. I want to disappear for a while. I want to live a normal life. I'm going to be happier."
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Gallery | One Direction's Instagram: Best of Zayn Malik