It was clear from the beginning that Zayn was never fully comfortable with fame.
We saw Simon Cowell had to personally urge him to even continue the audition process when he made it to bootcamp, back in 2010.
Idealists who think that making it big equates to happiness might be shocked with the news, but it was clear for some time that something was rotten in the state of One Direction.
"I seriously don't want to do it because I hate dancing and I've never done it before," said. He added that he knew other people would be better than him.
On Monday, it was confirmed that he would be leaving the rest of their world tour due to stress leave - an indicator that it might be the beginning of the end for his time in the biggest boyband in the world.
He admitted the reason behind the move is that he wants to lead a 'normal life'.
"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."
It doesn't seem to be an issue with confidence for Zayn, in fact, it's the opposite - he knows exactly what he wants. It was 17-year-old self, who went against his instincts, dazzled by the bright lights of fame and fortune ahead.
We watched him squirm and sit quietly during interviews - the only redeeming quality apparently being his budding camaraderie with bandmate Louis Tomlinson. Perhaps most evident of his desire to stay his former self, was his engagement to Perrie Edwards - whom he met during his time on the show.
This is a man who had his Instagram as a private account until last year.
Since that awkward 2010 interview, we've seen him flourish into an apparently confident young man with the right balance of boyish handsomeness and coy that makes record companies cry into their millions.
One Direction has toured world four times in as many years, a virtually unheardof feat for any group - let alone, a band being marketed to the most fickle generation ever, with an attention span that lasts as long as a Snapchat.
After nearly five years on top of the world though, the old Zayn, one who couldn't be buffed into a shiny vision of PR perfection, began to sneak through again.
The last 12 months have been a downward spiral for the group, in particular for Zayn, who has moved from one scandal to the next.r.
From the rumours of separate private jets (these are millionaire problems after all) to his conspicuous absences from high profile events, including a promotional gig in the US last November, which, was allegedly due to a drug problem.
Liam Payne said he had a stomach bug and Zayn said he was disappointed that the question was ever raised.
The signs have been there from the beginning, fans just chose not to see them.
Louis Tomlinson has been pictured kissing a girl in a pool in Thailand, forcing a spokesperson for the band to admit he has split from his long-term girlfriend Eleanor.