ONE DIRECTION star Liam Payne has described Zayn Malik’s departure as “the worst” time for the band, but reassured fans it did not spell the end for the group.
The 21-year-old singer posted a heartfelt message on Twitter after the announcement that Malik had left the world’s biggest boy band, saying he wanted the chance to be “a normal 22 year old”.
The news has shocked One Direction fans, with charities voicing concern after pictures emerged on social media of some who appeared to have harmed themselves and were asking others to do so.
Payne said he felt “deeply saddened” but promised there was more to come from the group.
He tweeted: “For the past five years now I’ve been part of something so special I don’t think any of us really understand, something that can mean the world to people and put a smile on the face of our fans even in the darkest times.
“To a lot of people it’s just a bunch of silly kids in a band, but to the people involved it means so much more. This last week has been some of the worst times, possibly the worst, it’s something we are all deeply saddened by.
“It’s sad to think for the time being we won’t grace the stage as five bros or have the same fun on a tour bus or laughs in a hotel together that we have over the years but I’m super sure us and Zayn will always remain the closest friends.
“I guess what I’m really trying to say is it’s far from over. When we very first became successful we all agreed that one direction had become much bigger than each individual member that’s why I feel like right now it’s OK to be sad and upset but I do ask everyone who is a fan of us to please keep your faith in us I’m sure there’s a lot more to come.”
Fellow bandmates Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan also said fans’ support over the split made them more determined to produce more chart-topping hits.
Horan told his 21.8 million Twitter followers: “Been a mad few days and your support has been incredible as per usual! This in turn spurs us on to make the best music we possibly can.”
And Tomlinson said: “Been a crazy couple of days but know that we are going to work harder than ever to deliver the best album we’ve ever made for you guys!”
Reacting to fears of self-harming yesterday, a spokeswoman for charity Young Minds said: “Zayn is an important role model to other young people, as he is prioritising his wellbeing over fame and taking time out to look after himself.
“Young people who feel affected by this news should reach out to other young people and to trusted adults and talk to them about how they feel. It’s a loss so like any loss it is about taking care of yourself and being with people who care for you and can support you.”