WORLD EXCLUSIVE The 1D hottie opens up about his natural rhythm

In just two years, the five stars of One Direction have been transformed from teenage X Factor hopefuls into members of the biggest boy band in the world.

I’ve been there along the way for the ride with them, from the day their teenage fans first climbed on to the roof of ITV’s canteen to catch a glimpse of the lads to their first headline concert in London.

That’s why they’ve granted me the exclusive interviews every magazine in the world has been chasing.

Over the next five weeks, I’ll bring you in-depth and personal chats with Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson, where they talk openly about everything from their love lives to celebrity feuds.

But first I sit down with Zayn Malik, who I think is the most misunderstood member of 1D.

Far from his reputation as a hellraiser who lacks commitment to the band, I’ve always found the 19-year-old from Bradford to be thoughtful and sensitive.

As we sit down in the offices of Simon Cowell‘s record company in London, he opens up for the
first time about the rumours that have dogged his relationship with Little Mix‘s Perrie Edwards, 19 – and why he really split from fellow X Factor finalist Rebecca Ferguson, 26.

I’ve known you since those early days backstage on The X Factor in 2010 and you’ve always been incredibly sweet.

But you have a reputation as One Direction’s bad boy, haven’t you?

A little bit yeah.

But it’s cool. I’ll take it.

I think my reserved personality is sometimes taken the wrong way and that’s why people just perceive me as a bad boy whereas I’m actually just a little bit shy and awkward.

That’s true.

Things have exploded for you, especially in America, since I last interviewed you in January.

How much pressure has that added to your life?

You know what, with me if there’s something that’s going to make me stressed I try to completely avoid it.

When people are putting pressure on me I just completely ignore it.

I have fun with the lads and do what I’ve got to do.

I’m not one to get involved with what anyone says about me.

I’m not really bothered.

But at one point you quit Twitter – was that sparked by the false rumours that circulated about you and your girlfriend Perrie?

No, that’s not what it was about.

I won’t let someone’s opinion of me affect me.

But when I see other people around me, like my mum and my girlfriend, getting upset then it annoys me.

That’s why I deleted my Twitter account.

Some people seem to want to break you two up…

I don’t really understand that.

I guess there’s a sense of jealousy because I have a girlfriend now while I was a bit of a ‘bad boy’ before.

So the fans know you’re off limits now?

Exactly. Some of them don’t like it.

Perrie’s such a sweet girl.

She is.

Does it help that you’re both going through the same thing professionally?

Definitely.

When I’m away at work, she understands because it’s the business.

Our jobs are full-on every single hour of the day.

She gets that because she has to do exactly the same thing.

We have a lot of trust and understanding between us.

I think that’s why our relationship works.

Do you think it’s possible to sustain a relationship while you’re in One Direction?

I think it is.

It can be difficult but that depends on the situation and the people.

How did you and Perrie decide to get together?

We had an understanding from the start.

I told her: ‘This is my job, this is what’s going to happen, stories will come out.

‘Do you still want to be with me?’

That was established from the start and after that it was about me and her.

So you have a mutual trust?

Yeah, definitely.

Perrie has a lot of trust in me and I have a lot of trust in her.

That’s why it works.

Your ex-girlfriend Rebecca Ferguson, who you started dating on the X Factor tour last year, has been more open about your relationship than you wanted to be.

Is that right?  

Definitely.

Are you still in touch with her?

No, we’re not in touch at all.

So what happened?

It was just a weird situation and a weird time I was going through being away from home on The X Factor tour.

To get that comfort and friendship from someone was nice.

But I think it was a wrong decision to make at such a young age.

Then it did end quite badly so we don’t talk any more.

Do you think it was unrealistic for you to be together with her having two young kids?

Definitely.

That was definitely unrealistic.

That’s evident now.

Were you upset when Rebecca decided to talk publicly about the end of the relationship?

I tried to stay away from getting into that because I’m not interested in the technicalities of whatever happened.

It was just a wrong idea from the start.

It shouldn’t have happened.

It did.

And then we dealt with it and went our separate ways.

Tell me about your friendship with Justin Bieber.

He’s very similar to me in terms of the type of music he likes and things he likes to do.

We both love skateboarding.

It’s really cool because I remember the first time he came to The X Factor, when we were contestants, it was hard to even get a photo with him because he has that whole entourage.

For him to go out of his way to hang out with us was really flattering.

He thinks it’s cool that he’s now got someone of a similar age to hang out with in the industry.

And you had a bit of a wild night together recently, didn’t you?

It was a bit crazy, yeah.

I had an accident doing a half-pipe [a skateboarding move] and was on crutches for five days.

My ankle popped out of place.

It was really painful at the time, but it was a good night!

Could you see yourself still in the band in 10 years’ time?

Yeah, definitely.

Do you want to be like Take That, doing this when you’re 40?

Definitely.

We want to stick together as a group for as long as people are supporting us and listening to our music.

You know, in the future who knows what’s going to happen?

Two years ago, if anyone had told me I’d be doing half the stuff I’m doing, I wouldn’t have believed it.

It makes me laugh to think back to boot camp when Simon Cowell had to force you to dance.

Does he still bring that up with you?

Yeah, all the time – he always bullies me about it!

He asks me if I’ve had dancing lessons and says he heard I can breakdance now.

Are you glad One Direction don’t really do dance routines?

Yes, I don’t think that would suit us in any way, shape or form.

We’re just five young lads having fun and that’s what our performance should be.

It must have been a relief to you when Simon agreed with that?

A huge relief.

I was always glad I wasn’t added to JLS!

Read more about Zayn Malik in Now magazine dated 22 October 2012 – out now!

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