Just like the rest of his former bandmates — Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne — the British singer auditioned for The X Factor as a solo artist before being put in the group. Once their time on the show came to an end, the boys found worldwide success and released four records, Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories and Four. Then, on March 25, 2015, everything changed when Zayn announced that he would be leaving One Direction.
“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. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart,” he said in a statement shared on the band’s official Facebook page. “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.”
The band went on as a foursome and released one more album before taking an indefinite hiatus in December 2015. Following his departure from the group, Zayn went on to make music as a solo artist and has released three albums over the years — Mind of Mine, Icarus Falls and Nobody Is Listening. The British singer and Gigi Hadid also welcomed their first daughter together in September 2020, but they’ve since called it quits.
Throughout various interviews, Zayn has spoken out a few times about his decision to say goodbye to 1D. In March 2021, he even revealed which member’s solo music he likes the best. “I don’t think there’s a comparison [between the four boys’ music],” he told Sirius XM’s Debatable at the time. “But I’ll tell you what, Niall is my favorite. How about that? Niall makes the best music.”
The singer noted that the “Slow Hands” crooner makes “better music” than him before dubbing himself as “a Niall fan.”
But that’s not all he’s said about the group. Scroll through our gallery to read Zayn’s most candid quotes about leaving One Direction.
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