After bagging his first Bundesliga assist in his fledgling career on Saturday 12 May, Harambee Stars prospect and Hannover 96 midfielder Linton Maina is overjoyed by the fete that came in only his second senior appearance for the side.
In the final game of the season against Bayer Leverkusen, Andre Breitenreiter’s charges went down 3-2 at the Bay Arena but it was in that game that Maina, born in Berlin but with Kenyan roots, grabbed his first senior team assist by bringing in a low cross in the penalty area for Austrian striker Martin Harnik to tap in from close range deep in stoppage time.
Coming on for Sebastian Maier with an hour gone in the game, the 18 year old made his first contribution by winning a free kick off defender Tin Jedvaj and he has said that his immediate impact gave him the confidence to surge on and try and make an impact in the game.
Speaking to the club’s official portal, Maina who made his senior debut in March against Borussia Dortmund said, “My first input in the game was successful as I helped the team win a free kick in a dangerous position and it gave me confidence. The assist is my highlight and it felt great.
“It’s all going pretty fast considering that one and a half years ago I was in the U-19 team. I am overjoyed and grateful that I got the chance,” he said.
In the 30 minutes or so that he was on the pitch, young Maina had a pass success rate of 90% as well as a tackle rate of 83%. Add that to the 12 sprints he made and his coach Breitenreiter was left impressed by the young lads impressive cameo appearance.
“He really did a great job and showed his strengths,” said the former Schalke 04 coach.
With the season concluded and all eyes now set on the summer FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia starting from next month, Maina who has featured for the German national junior teams and is currently a member of the U-19 squad will be hoping to use the free time for more improvement in anticipation for more game time come next season.