From pariah to hero...
McGowan took a large part of the blame last year when Brazil thrashed Holger Osieck's Socceroos 6-0. McGowan was dropped for the following game against France a month later - but the Australian side was again thrashed 6-0 in a result which finally cost the German coach his job.
Eight months later though and McGowan returned to the starting line up as a rightback in Brazil against the Netherlands after Ivan Franjic flew home injured - and this time he shone.
He delivered the perfect ball for Cahill to get on the end of, smashing it with his weaker left foot in a showstopping volley that screamed into the back of the Dutch net.
Today McGowan, 24, was humble about his role in the goal - but delighted to have played a part and redeemed himself.
"I think it's made my cross a little bit better than it actually was," McGowan said. "No-one in the stadium expected us to do that and to be a part of that is amazing.
"All my career, I've had people telling me I wasn't good enough or couldn't make it so it just spurs you on to work harder in training and come back and prove people wrong.
"It's something that 18 months ago, or after that Brazil game and getting dropped from the squad, this would have been the furthest thing from my mind at that time."
The barbs after the Brazil game have still left scars on McGowan.
"As a footballer you sort of expect criticism when you get a bad result and I'm no different," he admitted.
"I didn't have a particularly good game - but at the same time, I don't think any of us that day had a good game.
"But I worked hard and kept my head down and surrounded myself with people that made sure I was doing 100% and it just goes to show that hard work does pay off.
"With Australia being involved at the World Cup, this is something that I'll have for the rest of my life."
Now he's looking forward to the Spain game, but under no illusions about the task ahead of the Socceroos.
He believes the Australian side is getting better with every outing as they get more and more playing time together, a rare commodity with coach Ange Postecoglou's rapid regeneration of the side.
But they have been buoyed by their performance against the Dutch which won plaudits from experts across the world.
"I think that's the first game the back four has started together," said McGowan. "It was difficult but...I think everyone should take confidence out of the performance. They were a team that beat Spain 5-1.
"After the Chile game, we've improved more and more I think we really have to go out and get a result against Spain. This time we need to tie them both together and put on a good performance but at the same time, get a result. It's what we all want.
"The more we get to play together, and train more and more, the better we will become. We are looking to leave this World Cup on the end of a win."