Zayn Malik has spoken for the first time since his decision to leave One Direction. The 22-year-old pop star shared his reasons for quitting the boy band, and dismissed claims that his exit could signal the end of 1D's career.
"I feel like I've let the fans down but I can't do this anymore," Zayn said in an exclusive interview with the Sun. "It is crazy and wild and a bit mad but, at the same time, I've never felt more control in my life.
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Zayn Malik has given his first interview since quitting One Direction
"And I feel like I'm doing what's right – right by myself and right by the boys, so I feel good."
Zayn said that his decision to leave the band shortly after being signed off with stress was a long time coming.
"You know, I did try to do something that I wasn't happy doing for a while, for the sake of maybe other people's happiness," he admitted. "And that was mainly the fans. And I only ever tried to do it for the fans, and it was only ever for them.
"I'm only upset (because) I feel like I may have let them down in some sort of way. It's not that I've turned my back on them or anything, it's just that I just can't do that anymore because it's not real to me."
The star also quashed reports of a rift with his bandmates – Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan – stating that rumours of a falling out "couldn't be more wrong".
Zayn Malik said the rest of the band "have been really supportive"
"It's been really good for me," Zayn said. "Because I feel it's been a bit different to when other bands have broken up or when a member's left or whatever.
"My band have been really supportive. They've been really cool about it. And they understand that, you know, it's not real to me anymore.
"They still want to do it for a while, so they're going to carry on doing what they want to do and I think they're going to do ok for a while."
Of his own future plans, he added: "I'm just going to chill, man. I'm just going to be me for a while."
During the interview, Zayn also spoke briefly about his fiancée, Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards. "Yeah, she's always been supportive," he said of the pretty blonde. "She's always good, man."