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20 October 2011: Pop crooners Westlife dramatically announced they're splitting up after 14 chart-topping years together last night - but manager Louis Walsh said he hopes it's not the end.
The band, who have earned an estimated €10 million fortune each during their career, released a statement saying their Greatest Hits album will be their last.
Their final farewell will take place on their Greatest Hits Tour, which kicks off in May next year. Band manager Louis Walsh admitted the band have been thinking about going their separate ways for some time.
“This is their decision entirely but they've thought about it long and hard for a while,'' he said. “They've been together since they were kids and they're all still the best of friends but they feel it's time that they all go and do their own thing now. There were discussions about taking a break for a year or two but in the end they felt it was better to make a clean break so that's what they're doing.”
He added: “There's no bad blood, no rows - they're all great pals but they all want to try different things now.'' Band members Nicky Byrne (33), Kian Egan (31), Mark Feehily (31) and Shane Filan (32) can afford to retire after selling more than 44 million records during their 14 year career.
However, Walsh revealed they all have plans to take up showbiz careers. “Shane is writing songs and plans to go solo and Mark is already producing and writing songs,'' he said. “Kian is starting out in TV with The Voice and Nicky also has plans in that direction too.
“They've just come back from Asia and they were away from friends and family for nearly a month. They don't want to do that anymore. They want to do things at their own individual pace now and get to spend more time with their families and strike out on their own.''
Walsh revealed he hopes that this will not be the end of Westlife. “The Stone Roses reunited today and no one thought that would ever happen,'' he said. “Take That reunited with Robbie Williams and no one ever thought that would happen either. I think give them time and things could change. Personally I don't want them to split up but it's their decision.''