Liam Payne has reportedly broken up with girlfriend Sophia Smith - just days after the star's mystery illness lead to One Direction cancelling a gig at the last minute

Liam Payne has split from his long-term girlfriend – just days after the band were forced to cancel a gig in Belfast because Liam was unable to take to the stage.

Rumours swirled on social media over the weekend that 21-year-old Sophia Smith had deleted all trace of the 1D star from her social media accounts – with some fans fearing the split could be behind Liam’s no-show on stage in Belfast on Tuesday.

MORE: ‘I’m feeling much better’: Liam Payne returns to the stage with One Direction after alleged ‘meltdown’

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A source close to the 22-year-old star confirmed to MailOnline: ‘Liam and Sophia have split.

‘Liam is incredibly sad, but is going to keep busy. He really hopes that everybody will respect both his and Sophia’s privacy and stop speculating.’

Liam fuelled fans’ fears that the couple – who have been together over two years – had split by sharing a sad Twitter post on Saturday.

He wrote: ‘I love how music is always there for you when you need it most x’

Unsurprisingly, Directioners are freaking out over the news.

One wrote: ‘Appears that Liam and Sophia broke up. She deleted every picture with Liam on Facebook and Instagram and Liam’s last tweet makes sense.

‘If Liam and Sophia broke up i don’t believe in true love anymore,’ another added.

Another said: ”IS THIS TRUE??? LIAM AND SOPHIA BROKE UPPP???? NO!!!!’

And one mused: ‘If the reason they canceled the concert is because Liam and Sophia broke up that would make more sense than Liam being sick.’

Fans were given a ray of hope by reports that Sophia had posted a denial of the split on her Instagram – but the account turned out to be a fake.

Concern for Liam first arose when a reported illness caused 1D to cancel the Belfast gig on Tuesday.

The band’s publicist, Simon Jones, released a statement reading: ‘Unfortunately One Direction have had to cancel tonight’s concert in Belfast. Liam has been taken suddenly ill, and the concert will sadly not be taking place.

But just a day later, The Sun reported that Liam had suffered a ‘meltdown’ backstage before the show.

A source told the paper: ‘The pressures of fame and being on the road for two years have made Liam ill.

‘He was devastated about letting everyone down, especially the fans, but he wasn’t physically able to get on stage.

‘He had a complete meltdown.’