It wasn’t only the fans' hearts that broke when Zayn Malik announced he had decided to leave One Direction. In the band's first newspaper interview following Zayn’s dramatic exit, Liam Payne has admitted that the loss of their friend from the lineup left the remaining four members "gutted".
Liam told the Sun: "It's been a tough few weeks, probably the toughest since the band was formed five years ago. We're gutted that Zayn chose to leave, but now after a few performances as a four piece, we're feeling confident and are determined to carry on stronger than ever."
CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE ZAYN'S TOP ONE DIRECTION MOMENTS
Shockwaves were sent through the pop world when Zayn confirmed he was leaving the band to enjoy life "as a normal 22-year-old". Though some commentators have questioned the band’s future as a four-piece, Louis Tomlinson made assurances that they are not going to quit the music business any time soon.
"All four of us are 100 percent committed to staying in One Direction and we want to thank the fans for being so incredible during this time," added the 23-year-old, who is continuing on the group's On The Road Again tour with Liam, Harry Styles and Niall Horan.
Zayn also spoke to the newspaper last week, saying that any rumours of a rift between him and his former bandmates "couldn't be more wrong".
"It's been really good for me," the star told the paper. "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."
Zayn was last seen in holiday snaps posted to Instagram showing the singer enjoying some downtime with his fiancée Perrie Edwards, from girlband Little Mix.
The former One Direction star shared a sweet snap of himself kissing Perrie on Thursday taken, while they enjoyed an Easter getaway with his family.
The pair were pictured boarding a private airplane earlier this week along with Zayn's mum Trisha, his sisters and his cousins. It isn't known where they jetted away to, but it is believed they were looking to spend some time alone together away from the glare of the spotlight after a challenging couple of weeks.
Perrie, 21, and Zayn, 22, have been under a great deal of strain ever since the boyband singer announced he was leaving One Direction. The couple, who got engaged in August 2013, have been rocked by persistent claims of his infidelity – but are going out of their way to show they are still as loved-up as ever.
The couple are also said to be bringing their wedding plans forward – and could possibly tie the knot this spring.