Simon Cowell and One Direction have a special bond. Partially because they’ve worked together for so many years, but also because they both know what it’s like to be kicked off the X-Factor when they should have won the whole thing. The boys have talked about what the feeling was like when it was announced that 1D had come in third place. However, Simon was particularly spot on in a recent interview when he revealed that it felt like getting punched in the stomach.

The music producer mastermind said, “When you really care and are passionate about an artist, like the year I had One Direction, that’s what matters. When we got to the finals I thought we would at least come second, I remember that night they said, ‘The act who’s third is One Direction’, and it was like being punched in my stomach. I felt that bad for them, even though I thought outside of the show they would do well.”

Ugh, literally those words are giving us a pit in our stomach so we can’t imagine how Simon felt. Obviously, knowing his way around the industry, he was right. One Direction would succeed beyond the show. But still, when Simon knows he has stars it’s pretty terrible to accept defeat.

Simon continued, “You get that connection, so it’s not like you’ve won, it’s someone you care about. If I’m connected with an artist then I’ll care. If I’m not then I actually don’t care if I win or not.” And a connection is an understatement. Throughout the rest of One Direction’s career – as a single unit – he acted as a father figure. He told the boys when they were acting out and praised them for their accomplishments.

The only thing we can’t help but wonder is how he felt when the boys left him for good. When it was announced that Zayn Malik was leaving the band, that must have been a huge blow for Simon. Not only that but when the guys went to different record labels to produce and record their solo albums, it must have felt like a couple of punches to the stomach as well. Simon has spoken out about it and given his vague distaste but, in the end, he’s proud of them – he’s not even afraid to admit that he’s proud of Zayn.

Simon talked to Billboard and said, “Louis and I, you know, we’ve got this very close bond. When we heard about this current record, I remember calling him and going, ‘Louis, this record is special’ — and I could not be happier. Actually, with all the boys, if I’m being honest with you. They’ve worked for this. But yeah, you do feel a little bit like a proud dad when you see all five of them doing well now.” OUR HEARTS.

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